James Gadson

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James Gadson
Born (1939-06-17) June 17, 1939 (age 83)
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • producer
  • Drums
  • percussion
Years active1968–present

James Gadson ( James Edward Gadson; born June 17, 1939) is an American drummer and session musician. Beginning his career in the late 1960s, Gadson has since become one of the most-recorded drummers in the history of R&B.[1] He is also a singer and songwriter.[2]


Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Gadson played with the first line-up of Charles Wright's Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band,[3] and recorded three albums with them between 1968 and 1970. Along with other members of Wright's band, he went on to appear on many hit records, including with Dyke & the Blazers.[4] Gadson started to become well known as a drummer following the release of the album Still Bill by Bill Withers,[5] released by Sussex Records in 1972. He played on The Temptations album 1990,[6] released on the Motown label in 1973.

In 1975, he played with Freddie King on Larger Than Life[7] and went on to record with Martha Reeves, Randy Crawford, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, B.B. King, Albert King, Rose Royce, Elkie Brooks and many more artists.[8] In 1975, he anchored the Motown classic double platinum album City Of Angels, recorded by Billy Griffin & The Miracles.

Gadson was also the drummer on Marvin Gaye's "I Want You" in 1976 and Diana Ross's hit 1976 single Love Hangover and appeared on two tracks, "At The Mercy" and "Riding To Vanity Fair", on the 2005 Paul McCartney album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard.

He has a brief appearance in the Adam Sandler 2009 movie Funny People as a member of the jam band that Sandler's character hires to play with him.

In April 2009, Gadson joined Alex Dixon, grandson of Willie Dixon, on his 2009 release titled Rising From The Bushes, in which he appeared on two tracks, "Fantasy" and Willie Dixon's famous song "Spoonful".[9]

In June 2009, Gadson joined Beck, Wilco, Feist and Jamie Lidell covering Skip Spence's Oar as part of Beck's Record Club series, with videos appearing on Beck's website beginning November 2009.[10] He has drummed on Beck's albums Sea Change, The Information and Morning Phase, as well as Jamie Lidell's 2010 album Compass. Gadson played drums, as well as hambone (slapping his legs), on the D'Angelo song "Sugah Daddy", on the Black Messiah album (2014).[11] He appeared in the 2016 video for “Mama Can’t Help You No More,” by Doyle Bramhall II.

In 2019, James Gadson, who resides in Los Angeles, was featured on Gordon Ramsay's 24 Hours to Hell and Back as his paternal niece's and nephew-in-law's restaurant, Bayou on the Vine, was renamed "Gadson's Restaurant & Jazz Club", named after him and his late brother, guitarist Thomas Maurice 'Tutty' Gadson (died 2014).[12]



  • "Express Yourself" (Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Band) - (1970)
  • "Lean On Me" (Bill Withers) - (1972)
  • "Use Me" (Bill Withers) - (1972)
  • "Got To Find My Baby" / "Let The Feeling Belong" - Cream Records 1014 - (1972)
  • "Good Vibrations" / "Just To Love You Girl" - Cream Records 1019 - (1972)
  • "Dancing Machine" (Jackson 5) - (1974)
  • "I Want You" (Marvin Gaye) - (1976)
  • "Love Hangover" (Diana Ross) - (1976)
  • "Go By What's In Your Heart" / "Go By What's In Your Heart" - United Artists UA-XW815-Y - (1976)
  • "Got To Be Real" (Cheryl Lynn) - (1978)
James Gadson & Lou Washington
  • Gadson & Washington - "Ain't No Way To Live" / "Indian Village" - B And W Records – BW-011, B And W Records – BW-012 (12" 33rpm single)[13]

As sideman[edit]

With Mindi Abair

  • In Hi-Fi Stereo (Heads Up, 2010)
  • Wild Heart (Heads Up, 2014)

With Arthur Adams

  • Back on Track (Blind Pig, 1999)
  • Soul of the Blues (PM Records, 2004)
  • Stomp the Floor (Delta Groove, 2009)
  • Here to Make You Feel Good (Cleopatra, 2019)

With Alessi Brothers

  • Driftin' (A&M Records, 1979)

With Herb Alpert

With Corinne Bailey Rae

With Philip Bailey

With Anita Baker

With Jimmy Barnes

With Beck

With Booker T. & the M.G.'s

With Doyle Bramhall II

With Dianne Brooks

  • Back Stairs in My Life (Reprise Records, 1976)

With Elkie Brooks

With Peabo Bryson and Natalie Cole

With Solomon Burke

With Jerry Butler

  • Power Of Love (Mercury Records, 1973)

With Terry Callier

With David Castle

  • Castle in the Sky (Casablanca, 1977)
  • Love You Forever (Casablanca, 1979)

With Kelly Clarkson

With Jimmy Cliff

  • Follow My Mind (Reprise, 1975)

With Joe Cocker

With Adam Cohen

  • Adam Cohen (Columbia Records, 1998)

With Leonard Cohen

With Natalie Cole

With Nikka Costa

With Randy Crawford

With Jamie Cullum

With D'Angelo

With Lana Del Rey

With Jackie DeShannon

With Marcella Detroit

With The 5th Dimension

  • High on Sunshine (Motown, 1978)

With Donovan

With Yvonne Elliman

  • Love Me (RSO Records, 1977)
  • Night Flight (RSO Records, 1978)

With Donald Fagen

With Yvonne Fair

  • The Bitch Is Black (Motown, 1975)

With José Feliciano

  • José Feliciano (Motown, 1981)

With Aretha Franklin

With Toko Furuuchi

With Charlotte Gainsbourg

  • IRM (Beck, 2009)

With Marvin Gaye

With Gloria Gaynor

With Terry Garthwaite

  • Terry (Arista, 1975)

With Terry Garthwaite and Toni Brown

  • The Joy (Fantasy, 1977)

With Benny Golson

With Herbie Hancock

With John Handy

With Thelma Houston and Jerry Butler

With Thelma Houston

With La Toya Jackson

With Norah Jones

With Rickie Lee Jones

With Al Johnson

  • Back for More (Columbia, 1980)

With Margie Joseph

  • Hear the Words, Feel the Feeling (Cotillion, 1976)
  • Feeling My Way (Atlantic, 1978)

With Keane Brothers

  • Taking Off (ABC Records, 1979)

With Eddie Kendricks

With Albert King

  • Truckload of Lovin' (Tomato Records, 1976)

With Ben E. King

With B.B. King

With Elle King

With Freddie King

  • Larger Than Life (RSO Records, 1976)

With Charles Kynard

With Patti LaBelle

With Amos Lee

With Jamie Lidell

With Jon Lucien

  • Romantico (Zamajo, 1980)

With Cheryl Lynn

With Melissa Manchester

With Teena Marie

With Ziggy Marley

With Paul McCartney

With Gwen McCrae

  • On My Way (Atlantic, 1982)

With Lonette McKee

  • Lonette (Sussex, 1974)
  • Words and Music (Warner Bros., 1978)

With Shannon McNally

With Bette Midler

  • Bette (Warner Bros. Records, 2000)

With Blue Mitchell

With Barbara Morrison

  • Love'n You (P.C.H., 1990)

With Aaron Neville

  • Bring It On Home... The Soul Classics (Sony Music, 2006)

With Paolo Nutini

With Sweet Pea Atkinson

  • Get What You Deserve (Blue Note, 2017)

With Teddy Pendergrass

With Billy Preston

With Margo Price

With Helen Reddy

  • Reddy (Capitol Records, 1979)

With Martha Reeves

  • Martha Reeves (MCA Records, 1974)
  • We Meet Again (Fantasy Records, 1978)

With Simply Red

  • Home (Simplyred.com, 2003)

With Terry Reid

With LeAnn Rimes

With Minnie Riperton

With Smokey Robinson

With Rockie Robbins

  • Rockie Robbins (A&M, 1979)
  • You and Me (A&M, 1980)

With Nate Ruess

With Patrice Rushen

With Lara Saint Paul

  • Saffo Music (Lasapa, 1977)

With Evie Sands

  • Suspended Animation (RCA Victor, 1979)

With Boz Scaggs

With Lalo Schifrin

With Nancy Shanks

  • Nancy Shanx (United Artists, 1977)

With Marlena Shaw

  • Sweet Beginnings (Columbia Records, 1977)

With Michelle Shocked

  • Mexican Standoff (Mighty Sound, 2005)

With Lynwood Slim

  • Last Call (Delta Groove, 2006)

With Phoebe Snow

With Barbra Streisand

  • Wet (Columbia Records, 1979)

With Harry Styles

With Tavares

With Justin Timberlake

With Keith Urban

With Frankie Valli

  • Heaven Above Me (MCA Records, 1980)

With Thijs Van Leer

  • O My Love (Phillips Records, 1975)

With Kenny Vance

  • Short Vacation (Gold Castle, 1988)

With Vulfpeck

With Leon Ware

With Was (Not Was)

  • Boo! (Rykodisc, 2008)

With Bill Withers

With Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band

With Syreeta Wright

With Michael Wycoff


  1. ^ Amendola, Billy (September 2007). "R&B / Soul Legend James Gadson". Modern Drummer.
  2. ^ "James Gadson". Drummerworld.com. Retrieved 2019-12-30.
  3. ^ Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band at AllMusic
  4. ^ Funk: The Music, The People, and The Rhythm of The One
  5. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine (1972-10-06). "Still Bill - Bill Withers | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  6. ^ "AllMusic | Record Reviews, Streaming Songs, Genres & Bands". AllMusic. Retrieved 2019-12-30.
  7. ^ Larger than life at AllMusic
  8. ^ "James Gadson | Credits". AllMusic. 1968-05-18. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  9. ^ Michael G. Nastos. "Rising from the Bushes - Alex Dixon | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  10. ^ Schonfeld, Zach (2009-11-12). "Beck's Record Club draws Wilco, Feist, and others for Skip Spence remake". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  11. ^ "D'Angelo Reborn". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  12. ^ "Watch Gordon Ramsay's 24 Hours to Hell and Back S2E6 | TVNZ OnDemand". Archived from the original on 2019-03-25. Retrieved 2019-03-25.
  13. ^ Discogs James Gadson Discography


External links[edit]